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How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

A month ago, I wrote a post about Creating a Team Culture for your Business and so many of you responded and let me know that you too would some day like to have a team but that right now, the prospect of having somebody other than yourself on your team seemed overwhelming, impossible and necessary. I heard questions like, “how do I find somebody to hire?” and “how can a virtual assistant help me do in my business?” I realized that hiring is a scary prospect and can be an overwhelming feat.

I’m here to say, hiring doesn’t have to be overwhelming!

Entrepreneurship requires time and myriad skill sets that normal people don’t possess all of. Most of us don’t come into owning our own businesses knowing how to be strategic, know graphic design, know how to best write sales copy, have the ability to project manage, be an HR manager, and be a marketing whiz. It takes time to develop those skills and even if you have them, your time is probably better spent doing other revenue generating activities, right?

If you know that your zone of genius is, a la Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap, you know that what you should not be doing: all. the. things. Instead, once you have decent revenue in order to be able to invest, you can look at specialists who can support you in achieving your goals quicker.

So if you’re looking to make your first hire, this is what you should know! This will help determine where you might be best suited to get support.

Ashley Cox of Sprout HR also shared great tips on how to know when to grow your team which you should definitely take a look at!

A little story

I decided to make my first hire by bringing on a retainer (this is where you pay ahead of time for work to be done at a later point, and in my case an ongoing agreement) graphic designer to help me with weekly graphics for the blog, newsletter, and social media posts. I realized that this was necessary after weeks and weeks of me sitting on canva agonizing over how to make my hideous graphics better. I had it in my head that there was no way I could hire somebody. A baby business doesn’t hire people (the business was less than 6 months old at the time). But when I realized how much time I was spending (count em, about 5 hours) on creating 6 graphics, it felt idiotic. It wasn’t sustainable. I was killing myself doing something I SUCKED at doing.

So we (aka I) brought on the first Reina + Co team member who changed the way I looked at hiring. It was bumpy at the beginning because I didn’t know what I was doing with regard to onboarding somebody, but we figured it out.

Also, a funny aside is that I have multiple team members now, but none of them have the title “Virtual Assistant” or VA.

The reason I don’t have a VA on my team is because my teammates all have a specific role on my team. One of them does graphic design. One of them does our podcast show notes and the social media scheduling. One of them does all the other things the rest of the team nor I have the time or skill set for. While all of them could technically be classified as VAs, on my team, I make sure they have special roles.

Why should we hire?

  1. Because you want more time freedom – you no longer want to work all the hours of the day.
  2. Because you’re not an expert – there are people who are so much better at that thing than you are and for whom it would take a fraction of the time it takes for you to accomplish it (like my graphic design example)
  3. Because you want to grow – there are so many other things you could be doing with your precious time and you want your business to grow and only you can drive that growth train. Choo Choo!

What kind of people could you hire?

  1. High level Support – a coach, a strategist
  2. Done with you – a project manager, an online business manager
  3. Done for you – a graphic designer, a social media manager, an administrative assistant, a VA

Overwhelm central

If you’re like most people, it’s freaky to try to hire for a position on your team if 1) you didn’t even know there was another position on your team, and 2) how to find this person or how to make sure they’re the right one for the job. Many of us believe that we’re the only one who can love our business as much as we do. It’s true, but you need to remember that if you feel any overwhelm, frustration, anxiety about your business, it might be alleviated by you bringing somebody onto your team. And trust me, even if they don’t love your biz as much as you do, your team can love being part of your team.

Start here: List it all out

Spend time writing out a long list of all the activities you do in your business. It probably looks something like this: answer emails, update website copy, write blog posts, hang out aimlessly on Facebook, watch some videos from a course you bought, try to write the perfect Instagram caption. My guess is that many of these things cause you stress and annoy you. You might feel like you’re doing everything but you’re just constantly spinning your wheels.

The things that land on quadrant 1 is where you want to stay the majority of the time. Things that are super exciting to you and are aligned to your skills.

The things that land in quadrant 2 is the simplest to outsource. It’s a drain for you and it’s something that somebody else will be able to assist you with.

The things that land in quadrant 3 is the stuff that you’ll feel like you don’t want to outsource; this might be the second wave of tasks you relinquish to your teammates, if not immediately. Just because you like it doesn’t mean it’s necessary for you to continue to do it.

The things that land in quadrant 4 you’ll have to assess, how important that task is in order to determine how to proceed. Cutting it out of your business is an option, working with a coach or a strategist is also an option.

When’s the best time?

Determining the best time to hire is different for each person. However, I’d encourage bosses to think about hiring before it’s a critical emergency. If you know that there’s a big event coming up in your business (like a launch), you might want to bring somebody on to your team a few months before the big day so they are acclimated and know their way around so they can support you best in the more stressful time.

How to get ready to hire

I like to hire for the lowest hanging fruit and I try to do it well before we’re at the point where you needed support “yesterday.” By being proactive in hiring, you’ll get the right person in the door, just before it becomes urgent, which means that they’ll be really settled in by the time they need to be fully functioning.

Create a job description – this might be silly in the world of creatives where we don’t really do the traditional hiring practices; however, writing a job description outlines the needs you have and allows you to assess whether the new hire met the needs that you were looking to fill. Things you should include on your job description

  • About your company + culture
  • The duties of the position you’re hiring for
  • The “musts” of the position and the minimum requirements necessary
  • Anything you want the candidate to know

Checks and Balances

When you’re communicating with a potential candidate, keep your eyes open for indicators of success and weaknesses. These qualities might be: punctuality in showing up for meeting times, the time between email communications, spelling errors and other attention to detail, their energy and whether it matches yours or what you think might be a good fit for your brand, their willingness to learn, their interest in your business.

If you have a trusted confidante in your business, you could ask them to also talk to the candidate you like best to see if they see any red flags. I always encourage people to have a second opinion if possible.

Finally, give the new hire 3 months. It takes that long for you to communicate expectations, for them to learn the job and show you that they are capable and willing to learn. From there, you can decide whether they stay on your team for a longer duration of time.

Check out all the ways you can work with Reina!

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